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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just put a new set of chrome wheels on my car and would like to protect the finish. Any opinions on the best product to preserve the brand new shine?
 

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Any car wax will do but your best bet will be a "canuba" base wax because it will stand up to the hot brake dust better than a regular wax.

Its only going to last for 30 days at best and the first time you use spray wheel cleaner on the wheels the wax will be gone.
The first time you use dish soap, the wax will be gone.

Wax once a month and clean with pain water.

Don't get caught up in the chrome wax scams as there are only so many ways to make a wax and only difference is the higher price.
 

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Canuba base wax does breath.
That why on fresh paint you always use a Canuba wax so the solvents can ex-cape.

By the way, I know nothing about chrome, did not know it had to breath? Why? Its fully cured.
 

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agree,

lots of hose water first, lightly clean with a piece of sweatshirt and dish wash soap, rinse again, then use Windex with another piece of sweatshirt.

tar etc, soak the sweat shirt with mineral spirits and gently rub/disolve it off

whole idea is "float" the abrasive dirt off, don't scrub, windex makes it shine
 

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Waxing the chrome is not going to hurt it or cause it to flake. That is not the problem. The problem is purely mechanical. There is a mechanical bond between the parent material and the chrome plating.
Chrome has a very small expansion rate when heated. Steel is a little more and aluminum is much more. The flaking is caused by the loss of the mechanical bond when the chrome and the wheel expand at different rates when heated. This is especially true with plated aluminum wheels.
I had a set of cragars on my Firebird in the late 70's. I had them less then two years and the chrome started peeling and flaking off the cast aluminum centers. The steel rims were fine. This is why I would never by a set of plated aluminum wheels. They will never last.
You can wax those chromed wheels to your hearts content but if they are aluminum it will do you no good.
Mark
 

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astroracer said:
Waxing the chrome is not going to hurt it or cause it to flake. That is not the problem. The problem is purely mechanical. There is a mechanical bond between the parent material and the chrome plating.
Chrome has a very small expansion rate when heated. Steel is a little more and aluminum is much more. The flaking is caused by the loss of the mechanical bond when the chrome and the wheel expand at different rates when heated. This is especially true with plated aluminum wheels.
I had a set of cragars on my Firebird in the late 70's. I had them less then two years and the chrome started peeling and flaking off the cast aluminum centers. The steel rims were fine. This is why I would never by a set of plated aluminum wheels. They will never last.
You can wax those chromed wheels to your hearts content but if they are aluminum it will do you no good.
Mark
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I had never herd of wax causing chrome to peel before, glad you cleared it up.
I had special chrome spokes made about 4 years ago (by Dayton) and because of front disc conversion a lot of brake dust on the front.
So since new I have been waxing for easy rinse off. After I read the peel thing first thing I did was take a flash lite to basement and checked the wheels! Feel better now.
 

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As I always say do as you wish but when someone in the business of chroming tells me it will flake and detail sites tell me it will flake and DG Hard Crome denied my warrenty because they said I use wax and caused it to flake I get the hint!
I have never had chrome flake of aluminum but then again I did not wax it.
 

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Chrome is a metal. It can't breath. It has NO chemicals to "breath" like paint.

I've had brand NEW chrome work flaking off as I put the parts on. (sent those back 3 times) And I've had 20 year old chrome look as good as the new stuff.
I've seen chrome spiderweb or hairline crack like glass but stay attached. Mostly from old thin OEM chrome jobs. Too many abrasive cleanings will do this over time.

There is a reason gun manufacturers chrome lined gun barrels. The stuff is TUFF and lasts years. And thats even with acidic abrasiv gun powders being fired through them daily.

Good chrome lasts. Bad cheap chrome needs tender care and can't take much if any abuse.
 

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I have been using mustang repro-chrome bumpers for several years and have gone through a couple of sets now. These things are basically junk with just enough plating to make them look good(for a while anyway)and they will rust in a short time if left unprotected. These bumpers get waxed regularly with plain car wax and one set has been for over 15 years now with no sign of flaking. After all people have been waxing chrome bumpers for as long as they have been waxing cars and it didn't seem to ever be a problem in the past.
 

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Peeling chrome is due to bad practices in the chrome shop, not to anything you do afterward. The proper way to chrome plate steel is with 'triple chrome' starting with a clean and polished surface to a mirror finish. Whatever it looks like when you are finished prepping it is how it will look chromed. Next a coat of copper is plated on the steel. This is critical to a good job and cheap chrome jobs (peelers) leave this step out. The copper is essentially a primer, sticks to steel better than nickle does and can be used as sort of a filler for very minor blemishes. Also serves as corrosion protection. The copper is polished to a mirror finish (last polish step) and is plated with a heavy nickle coating. This is the bulk of the "chrome" plating you see. If nickle didn't oxidize and dull over time, that would be the end of the process and look great. However, it does oxidize slightly so to protect it a VERY light flash coat of chromium is plated over the nickel for a permanent shine and to achieve the blue silver look instead of the yellow silver look of nickel. Most of what you see on a knock-out chrome plated part is nickle!

Someone would have to explain the physics of how a coat of wax could possibly harm a chrome plated surface. This finish is placed in some of the most severe environments imaginable and survives perfectly so a coat of an organic wax seems extremely innocuous! I use good old liquid turtle wax on all my chrome. Have for over 30 years. It not only protects the surface but has a mild abrasive and solvent action and cleans crud off the chrome when applied.

Chrome plating aluminum can be done quite successfully but requires special care to prevent subsequent peeling. Aluminum is a very reactive metal and would corrode and disappear like magnesium does except for a unique chemical reaction from which it benefits. A clean aluminum surface instantly forms a layer of aluminum oxide (really tough stuff - a couple of steps below diamond on the hardness scale - the same stuff they use in grinding wheels!!) which protects it from further oxidation. The process of anodizing extends this reaction to a much thicker protective layer. Unfortunately, this oxide layer prevents electroplating from sticking to the substrate. Thus the surface must be treated with a chemical such as zinc chromate to remove the aluminum oxide layer and replace it with a zinc layer that can be successfully triple chrome plated.
 

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Willys-That is exactly the way I understood how the plating process works and I can't see how wax could possibly cause any kind of problem. Think about how many chrome bumpers and wheels are waxed every day and have been for YEARS! I would think that if there were any problems caused by this it would be well documented by now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for everyone's input. I have also contacted a good area plating company (Librandi's plating at www.carchrome.com) to get their input and will post it when they answer back.
 

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Great topic

Well, after reading the threads on this topic I was very curious myself. So I contacted a few friends in the plating/coating industry.

1. After an item is freshly plated there is a period of time you are not supposed to do anything to it. That time could be minutes, hours, ETC depending on the process used and material plated.
2. For chrome wheels the best protection is to "wax the [email protected]# out of it!" I asked what type of wax is best and was told: "any wax that sheds water. If it was processed right it will last for a long time. If not it will fall off anyway."

I spoke to three people.

The first has retired from the industry with 40+ years experience. He has developed several chemical processes that are in use today. Including the ones used at American Racing.
The second is new to the industry with only 10 years experience
The third has their doctorate degree in chemistry and teaches the subject.

I am sure that this will go down as just some moron talking but this is one subject I have done my research on. The bumpers on my chevelle were chromed 10 years ago now and I have only had to buff them one (due to my lack of maintenance!)
 

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Smallblock- Just what I thought, ever since cars have had chrome bumpers people have been waxing them with no problems and now after 50-60 years someone comes along and says "Don't do that it will make your chrome fall off" :rolleyes:
 

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The wait time is to allow hydrogen gas that is always absorbed into the substrate during electro-plating to out-gas. If waxed before the hydrogen gets out, it will tend to weaken the base metal by a process known as hydrogen embrittlement. And yes, the hydrogen molecule is so small it will pass through steel like it wasn't there. Other than that, the only thing that a chromed surface will breathe is oxygen and water vapor which is a lethal combination. Wax it to keep out that corrosive combo. All the chrome on my Willys is waxed heavily, especially the undercarriage, to protect it from those nasty rust pimples and to make it easier to keep clean.

This photo shows parts of it after 10 years for being always waxed and driven almost daily and except for being pig-pen dirty, it is in perfect condition. Not a sign of rust or peeling.

 

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"to wax or not to wax that is the question"

note: a bumper is not a wheel, which was the question

If you want a protective water repelling surface on wheels use nu-finish, protects better and lasts longer

The reason Windex is often mentioned for chrome is it is a very slightly base (ammonia "D") product and neutralizes any acid which is what attacks the chrome.
 
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